Medvedev Picks First Governor

President Dmitry Medvedev made his first gubernatorial appointment Friday, replacing the long-serving governor of the Stavropol region.

In a decree posted on the Kremlin web site, Medvedev accepted the resignation of Alexander Chernogorov, who fell out with Moscow last year after failing to lead United Russia to victory in regional legislative elections.

Medvedev replaced him with Valery Gayevsky, a former Stavropol official who served as a deputy to Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak.

The decree named Gayevsky acting governor but did not submit his candidacy to the Stavropol legislature for confirmation. Formally, the Kremlin needs to get approval from regional lawmakers in its choices for governor, although in practice no regional legislature has ever turned down a Kremlin nominee.

A Kremlin spokesman said Sunday that Gayevsky's nomination would eventually be submitted to Stavropol lawmakers for confirmation.

Chernogorov said he had "not accomplished everything he had hoped for" during his 11 years as governor, in a statement posted Sunday on his web site.

The outgoing governor was unpopular and often blamed for lackluster economic growth. His reputation was also tarnished by a messy divorce, during which the slogan "Sell the Bentley and pay your alimony" appeared on Stavropol billboards.

During regional legislative elections in March 2007, Stavropol was the only one of 14 regions where United Russia lost. Chernogorov, who had backed United Russia, was expelled from the party after the loss. Gayevsky served as Stavropol's economic development and trade official from 2001 to 2005, before joining Kozak's team in 2006.

Meanwhile, another governor believed to be on bad terms with the Kremlin, Sergei Darkin of Primorye, flew to Moscow on Friday after investigators searched his home and office in a corruption probe, Kommersant reported Saturday. Darkin's aides said he flew to Moscow to treat a heart problem, but the report quoted two Vladivostok lawmakers as saying he was probably seeking high-level support in the graft probe.